Google is constantly testing and finding more ways to tailor ads to meet customers where they are at – and for the last few years, where customers are at is on their mobile devices. In 2015, mobile searches surpassed computer searches for the first time on Google, and that trend has no sign of reversing. We are constantly stressing to our clients that having a mobile strategy is key to increased sales and/or leads. However, Google is also adapting its ad strategy and format to meet this increasing mobile presence. One of the ways it is doing this is through a newer ad extension type called message extensions.

What are Message Extensions?

Message extensions are additional links on your mobile ads that connect customers to your business via texts. If a customer is served an ad on a mobile device and has questions or wants to book an appointment, they can simply text the listed phone number and begin a conversation with a representative. This is a very desirable option if you receive a lot of phone call traffic from ads; you might also get a significant number of customers texting to ask for more information.

Screencap of message extension and text box

Image via Google

Should You Be Using Message Extensions?

While having a robust mobile strategy is key for any advertiser, using message extensions may only be appropriate if you fall under the following criteria:

  • Businesses with dedicated representatives that can answer the texts
    • It is very important not to enable message extensions if you don’t have someone actively monitoring the incoming messages. Having slow responses or poor customer service with texts may sway customers away from your business.
  • Businesses with services that can easily answer questions and requests via texts
    • For example:
      • Booking appointments
      • Requesting quotes
      • Asking quick questions
      • Requesting services – like cleaning, lawn maintenance, etc.
    • Businesses with low phone call traffic and phone call services may want to avoid enabling message extensions
  • Businesses with a mobile-heavy demographic
    • Some businesses have seen higher rates of mobile traffic than others, particularly those with customers between the ages of 18-35. It might be worth investing in more mobile-specific ads and ad strategy if your customer age group falls within this range.

Setting Up Message Extensions

Before setting up these extensions, the most important thing your business needs is a phone number that can receive, process and send text messages. If you do not have a textable business phone number, you can use Google Voice as a free solution.

Once you have your number, you can set up a message extension at the account, campaign or ad group level. You can also begin testing message extensions by applying it to mobile-only campaigns.